Callouts

It seems the time is past due for another post! We are so near to the beginning of this trip; things have become unbelievably busy! 11 days until we take a train from Chicago to New York City, but hey who’s counting!?

Since the last blog post, much has happened! I received the position of team journaling, so throughout the summer, you will be able to read daily about our team’s adventures on the illini4000.org homepage. The first of these updates is now on the page! We spent last weekend biking to Indiana to get to a mock stayover location. After 93 miles last Saturday, Josh convinced me to finish it off with a few more miles and make the day’s ride a century – 100 miles.

I’d like to spend the rest of this blog post responding to some questions people I’ve talked to have had about the trip, especially concerning safety.  Feel free to comment with any other questions you have!! There’s so much to talk about :)

Q: What if you can’t ride for a day?
A: We actually take turns as a team driving a van – our support vehicle. Only the team members 21 or older can drive, so I get to ride my bike every day! But in reality, if someone was injured or sick, they could just ride in the van for the day.   The van helps us by providing water bottle refills every 20 miles, lunch, carrying our bags – no, we don’t wear giant backpacks the entire time – etc.

Q: What kinds of roads do you ride on?
A: Mostly frontage and county roads. There are very few occasions in which we’ll need to use a highway, and if a situation ever feels unsafe, we have the option of riders being in the van.

Q: How do you avoid hazards in the road?
A: CALLOUTS!!!! (Insert blog title here). Basically, as a team, we are often riding single-file. It can be hard for the person behind you to see the hole which may have been so obvious to the lead rider, so we shout things out and pass them down the line. For example, the first rider shouts “hole left!” and “gravel right!” so that each successive rider is able to repeat this command for the good of the group. Other things we yell include but are not limited to: road kill, dog chasing, bump, glass, road narrows, stop up, slowing, and tracks (train).

Q: What about cars?
A: Great question… Cars tend to be everywhere. And they’re big!! To ensure safety and visibility, we are constantly calling out cars – up, back, left, and right. It’s important to be aware of the cars all around so we can tell a car back to not pass until the road is clear in front of us. Also, we don’t ride too close to the edge of the road. It may at first seem counter-intuitive, but it’s essential to have space on the right side of road to evade whatever hazards may arise.

Q: What if a rider can’t keep up with the group?
A: Well that’s why we choose the groups we split up into! During the summer we have various ride groups – often based on speed, always 3-6 people. This is the safest number of cyclists for a car to pass at a time. Also, we’re super nice people in general (YEAH I love my teammates!!) and none of us would want to leave a teammate behind!!! It’s about being perceptive to the needs of everyone in your ride group. As someone who enjoys being at the front of the pack, this is something I’ve certainly struggled with, but having a cycling computer (speedometer) has helped me to better understand pacing.

Q: What kind of weather will you ride in?
A: Rain is okay. Use bike lights! I guess we probably wouldn’t ride in a torrential downpour. But we have to get to the next town somehow!! At any sign of thunder or lightning, we immediately stop and communicate with the support vehicle and other ride groups to find the nearest shelter/ditch if necessary. Same rules as any other sporting event for whether or not to continue riding.

That’s all for now!  Comment if you have any questions/comments, or if you just wanna say hi! <3

First photo taken while riding ;)

Comments (1)
  • Walder's Mom says:

    Grace, there will be a whole lot of I4K families and friends eagerly awaiting your journal post every day of the ride. Thanks for taking on this assignment – and for the safety Q&A and the photo.

Leave a Reply